Wallstein Verlag

Heike Paul

American Civic Sentimentalism

On the state of US political culture

190 pages, 12,0 x 20,0 cm
ISBN: 978-3-8353-3923-1 (2021)


German Version

Between nationalism and patriotism, unity and division. What does American civic sentimentalism mean for social and national cohesion in the US?

The sentimental aspect of American political culture may be subject to economic fluctuations, but since the founding of the United States it has been a well-established pattern used for generating public sentiment and a sense of community. The increased occurrence of sentimentalism in US history has always been a symptom of political crises, as well as concomitant crises of political communication. Yet civic sentimentalism has worked for American state leaders and protest movements alike. Donald Trump's presidency represents a striking departure from the conventions of civic sentimentalism. Trump has proven consistently that gestures of empathy, compassion and grief are alien to him. Nonetheless, numerous examples show that Americans continue to strive for sentimentalism in their civic engagement, showing public expressions of grief, compassion and concern. However, it has become obvious not only since the last election campaign that compassion and affective identification are no longer enough to bridge the profound social polarisation in the country.
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